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Prehistoric Digital Poetry, Prehistoric Digital Poetry, 0817315624, 0-8173-1562-4, 978-0-8173-1562-7, 9780817315627, , , Prehistoric Digital Poetry, 0817354220, 0-8173-5422-0, 978-0-8173-5422-0, 9780817354220, , , Prehistoric Digital Poetry, 0817380876, 0-8173-8087-6, 978-0-8173-8087-8, 9780817380878,

Prehistoric Digital Poetry
An Archaeology of Forms, 1959-1995
C.T. Funkhouser, with a foreword by Sandy Baldwin

2007. 408 pp.
50 illustrations
Price:  $74.95 s
Quality Paper
2007. 376 pp.
50 illustrations
Price:  $39.95 s
E Book
2007. 408 pp.
Price:  $39.95 d

A singular and major historical view of the birth of electronic poetry.


For the last five decades, poets have had a vibrant relationship with computers and digital technology. This book is a documentary study and analytic history of digital poetry that highlights its major practitioners and the ways that they have used technology to foster a new aesthetic. Focusing primarily on programs and experiments produced before the emergence of the World Wide Web in the mid-1990s, C. T. Funkhouser analyzes numerous landmark works of digital poetry to illustrate that the foundations of today’s most advanced works are rooted in the rudimentary generative, visual, and interlinked productions of the genre’s prehistoric period.


Since 1959, computers have been used to produce several types of poetic output, including randomly generated writings, graphical works (static, animated, and video formats), and hypertext and hypermedia. Funkhouser demonstrates how hardware, programming, and software have been used to compose a range of new digital poetic forms. Several dozen historical examples, drawn from all of the predominant approaches to digital poetry, are discussed, highlighting the transformational and multi-faceted aspects of poetic composition now available to authors. This account
includes many works, in English and other languages, which have never before been presented in an English-language publication.


In exploring pioneering works of digital poetry, Funkhouser demonstrates how technological constraints that would seemingly limit the aesthetics of poetry have instead extended and enriched poetic discourse. As a history of early digital poetry and a record of an era that has passed, this study aspires both to influence poets working today and to highlight what the future of digital poetry may hold.



C. T. Funkhouser is Associate Professor of Humanities at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and author of Technopoetry Rising: Essays and Works (forthcoming) and Selections 2.0, an eBook.



"Focusing on examples of digital poetry before the Web rather than on literary precursors to Web experiments, Funkhouser (New Jersey Institute of Technology) offers an ambitious book that relies on, but also exceeds, the genre-building foundations established by Loss Pequeño Glazier (in Digital Poetics: The Making of E-Poetries, CH, Jul'02, 39-6249) and Brian Kim Stefan (Fashionable Noise on Digital Poetics, 2003). This inclusive volume functions as a resource-rich historical primer for those unfamiliar with the creative relationship between poets and computer technology over the last half century; a philosophical exploration of this relationship and its aesthetic implications; an encyclopedic critical attempt to document, contextualize, and classify (but not confine) early innovations, practices, and examples; and a broad survey of other critical perspectives, theories, and responses. A practitioner and scholar of digital poetry, Funkhouser argues that early formal innovations--e.g., text generation, visual and kinetic works, hypertext linking--remain fundamental to more recent Web-based compositions. The author concludes by speculating on the potential impact of increasing user collaboration and control on the future of digital poetics. A useful chronology and extensive bibliography round out this comprehensive and definitive (though at times meandering) resource. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals."

In Prehistoric Digital Poetry: An Archaeology of Forms, Chris Funkhouser provides a comprehensive historical, descriptive, and technical account of early works of computer-assisted poetry composition. This is essential reading for anyone interested in digital poetics, constraint-base writing, or, indeed, the possibilities for new poetry in the 21st century
—Charles Bernstein, author of Girly Man and editor of Electronic Poetry Center

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